PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’re a small business owner looking to hire a graphic designer or software developer to do some freelance work, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning you to first do some research due to a scam going around.
Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer, said it works like this: you go to a website and find a freelancer who, according to their resume and experience, is perfect for the job.
“You hire them and pay a deposit up front and that is where the scam begins,” Fleming said.
Fleming said to be wary if their asking price is much lower than what other freelancers are charging.
“If the rate is significantly lower than the other estimates that you’re getting, that’s a huge red flag,” she cautioned.
In these cases, weeks will go by and the work won’t get done, according to Fleming.
“There’s no project completed and you’re out the funds that you gave them as the deposit up front,” she said.
Fleming suggested conducting an interview via teleconference to make sure a candidate is legitimate, and you can also connect with people they’ve worked with in the past.
“Get references from other people, other businesses that they’ve helped,” she said.
You can also check out the individual’s portfolio website or LinkedIn profile, but the BBB warns to be on the lookout for impostors.
“Unfortunately, this qualified freelancer is stealing the photos and resumes of real independent contractors and posting them on these sites,” Fleming explained. “That makes it very tricky to tell who is real and legitimate from who’s not. They may contact the contractor for more information and it may still seem real.”
She also advised getting three estimates or requests for proposals from a freelancer.
“That’ll help to make sure you as a small business are protected,” she said.
Fleming said according to the BBB’s Scam Tracker, there haven’t been any reports of these schemes in Southern New England yet, but it’s showing up in other parts of the country.